Self-Locomotive Soft Actuator Based on Asymmetric Microstructural Ti3C2TxMXene Film Driven by Natural Sunlight Fluctuation

Ying Hu, Lulu Yang, Qiuyang Yan, Qixiao Ji, Longfei Chang, Chenchu Zhang, Jian Yan, Ranran Wang, Lei Zhang, Guan Wu, Jing Sun, Bin Zi, Wei Chen, Yucheng Wu

    Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

    86 Citations (Scopus)


    Soft actuators and microrobots that can move spontaneously and continuously without artificial energy supply and intervention have great potential in industrial, environmental, and military applications, but still remain a challenge. Here, a bioinspired MXene-based bimorph actuator with an asymmetric layered microstructure is reported, which can harness natural sunlight to achieve directional self-locomotion. We fabricate a freestanding MXene film with an increased and asymmetric layered microstructure through the graft of coupling agents into the MXene nanosheets. Owing to the excellent photothermal effect of MXene nanosheets, increased interlayer spacing favoring intercalation/deintercalation of water molecules and its caused reversible volume change, and the asymmetric microstructure, this film exhibits light-driven deformation with a macroscopic and fast response. Based on it, a soft bimorph actuator with ultrahigh response to solar energy is fabricated, showing natural sunlight-driven actuation with ultralarge amplitude and fast response (346° in 1 s). By utilizing continuous bending deformation of the bimorph actuator in response to the change of natural sunlight intensity and biomimetic design of an inchworm to rectify the repeated bending deformation, an inchwormlike soft robot is constructed, achieving directional self-locomotion without any artificial energy and control. Moreover, soft arms for lifting objects driven by natural sunlight and wearable smart ornaments that are combined with clothing and produce three-dimensional deformation under natural sunlight are also developed. These results provide a strategy for developing natural sunlight-driven soft actuators and reveal great application prospects of this photoactuator in sunlight-driven soft biomimetic robots, intelligent solar-energy-driven devices in space, and wearable clothing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5294-5306
    Number of pages13
    JournalACS Nano
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021


    • photoactuator
    • self-locomotion
    • soft actuator
    • soft robot
    • sunlight-driven actuation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Materials Science
    • General Engineering
    • General Physics and Astronomy


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